Agricultural landowners in the Northern Grampians Shire will now pay an average 11 per cent more on their rates after councillors passed the latest budget this week.
Councillors met on Monday to adopt shire's 2020-21 draft budget, which was passed unanimously according to Mayor Murray Emerson.
"Every decision by council, whichever way it goes, is a unanimous decision," Cr Emerson said.
"There was division on the discussion, but the motion was passed, so this is the decision of the council."
Cr Emerson said the increase of farm rates, which makes up 28 per cent of $18.1 million revenue raised by the shire, dominated the meeting.
"There was some vigorous and decisive discussion had, in regards to aspects of the budget, particularly in relation to the increases in farm rates," he said.
"Some councillors were of the opinion that we could be a little more lenient in regards to our deliberations for the increases in agricultural rates.
"In the end, the decision of the council was we have been as fair and reasonable as we can be under the system we work."
The mayor said some farmers would pay more average increase, while some may see a decrease in their rates.
Overall, rates were raised by two per cent across the shire, meaning some ratepayers will pay less this financial year.
Councillor Kevin Erwin said there was only so much the council could do.
"The rate system needs an overhaul," Cr Erwin said.
"It's unfair that some landholders are put at an unfair disadvantage.
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"All you need is one big land sale and it will influence the land prices across the whole region."
The budget notes the estimated total value of farm properties in the shire in 2020-21 is more than $1.7 billion, 22.3 per cent higher than last financial year.
Previously, Cr Erwin farmers were also eligible for the council's rate relief measures being brought in in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cr Emerson has previously hinted there could be further relief for farmers in coming years.
Despite the controversy, the mayor said there is a lot to celebrate in the new budget.
"We have the North Park precinct upgrade, Great Western Future and St Arnaud Community Visioning project," Cr Emerson said.
"Council is very pleased it is in a financial position where they can develop some of our well overdue sporting complexes and sporting complexes."
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